Big trucks, big fun
Hundreds of fans lined the route Saturday as colorful semi- trucks paraded from the Dodge County Fairgrounds to Byron and Mantorville and back during the 18th annual Big Iron Classic.
It seemed like an endless line of trucks.
In fact, Big Iron organizer Jim Finn said, there were probably more than 600, driven by truckers from California, Washington state, Montana, Atlanta – “all over the place.”
“I got to go through it one time, and it’s pretty crazy,” said Finn, a trucker from Mantorville. “People are sitting in field drives in their cars. We go through Mantorville and it’s standing room only, down the hill there. It’s pretty neat.” All those shiny trucks and trailers were on display at the Fairgrounds, where an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 visitors took in the spectacle on Friday and Saturday.
They included Tyler Kronebusch, Dodge Center, who said he has attended Big Iron each year since it began in 2000.
“All the time and stu like that people put into these trucks, it’s amazing,” he said, “from daily drivers to just the old dogs laying around. People fix it up and bring it here. It’s pretty nice.
“It’s nice to come in here and meet new people and talk to some old drivers and stu like that,” Kronebusch said. “I like coming here.”
Finn said he, too, has enjoyed trucks since he was aboy–and he and his wife/event assistant Brenda have befriended many trucker friends over the years.
Their sons were about 3 and 6 years old when Big Iron began. Now they both drive trucks.
“We’ve got to watch our families grow up together,” Finn said. “And now their boys are driving trucks. There are three generations (including Jim’s father, Chuck, and Jim and his sons). We get to watch everybody’s family grow up.”
Saturday evening’s truck pull filled the grandstand.
Some 70 trucks were involved – a very large field, said Clayton Johannes of Jordan, a former puller who works as a security man at the event.
He said more weight is added to the sled with each class, and when it came to the Open class, all weight available is added, “which I’m told is an extra 40,000 pounds.”
Trucks pulling that sled from north to south in front of the big crowds are slowed near the end with the help of 3-inch “teeth” that bite into the ground.
The winners earn a trophy and bragging rights.
“We started the truck pull the second year, and it’s been a great thing for the community, I believe,” Johannes said. “I hope everybody in the community appreciates it, like we appreciate them letting us do this.
Planning for Big Iron is a year ‘round deal. The Finns are assisted by Pat Barker, Jim Wallerich, and about 30 invaluable volunteers.
Truckers this year were set to take donations of toys and non-perishable food items to hurricane victims in Texas.
“I’m really glad the people put up with us for the two days, ‘cause it ends up being chaos around here,” Finn said. “But everybody seems to love it. Everybody in town is just really helpful with everything. The school, the police department – everybody.”